Management of adverse effects of radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is a local treatment modality and therefore the side effects are almost invariably local. Typical adverse effects are caused by a damage to the reproductive cells. Skin reactions comprise redness and dry or moist epithelitis. Other symptoms include mucosal injuries, fibrosis, cataract, radiation pneumonitis, and after extensive radiotherapy also leuco- and thrombocytopenia. Growth disturbances in the bone and cartilage tissues are seen in growing children in the areas that have received radiation doses large enough to destroy tumours. Mental development may be retarded especially in small children if the radiation is directed into the area of the head and brains.